U.S. Selling Missiles, Drones to Iraq Amid Spreading Violence

Obama administration aims to help Iraq beat back growing terrorism.

Aviation Ordnancemen prepare to load an AIM-120 missile onto an F/A-18E Super Hornet from the Royal Maces of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 27 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73).
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The United States is selling dozens of missiles and low-tech surveillance drones to Iraq to help combat growing violence by suspected al-Qaida forces, according to reports.

While the Obama administration has been quick to count the winding down of the Iraq War as a success, violence is on the rise, according to death tallies by the United Nations. And now, the U.S. is selling Hellfire missiles and drones to the Iraqi government to help combat growing terrorism cells, The New York Times reported Thursday.

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More than 8,000 Iraqis were killed this year, which is the most since 2008, according to the U.N. And though neither President Barack Obama nor Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki wants to increase the role of American troops in the country, the Times reports that both also fear a resurgence of al-Qaida, based on recent violence.

Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, told the Times the U.S. has not received a formal request for armed drones by Iraq, like those used by American forces. But the Times also reports the U.S. shipped 75 Hellfire missiles to Iraq last week, which the country paid for, and 10 reconnaissance drones are scheduled for delivery in March.

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Jen Psaki, a State Department spokeswoman, issued a statement Sunday condemning the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an al-Qaida linked group, for a recent attack.

"We remain committed to helping strengthen Iraqi forces in their ongoing fight against ISIL," she said in the release. "We also note the unanimous condemnation of the attacks [Saturday] by Iraqi officials, including the prime minister and the speaker of the Council of Representatives, as well as the detention in recent days of al-Qaida affiliated militants in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region."

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